If you’ve been keeping tabs on the Green Bay Packers’ transactions recently, you might have noticed that general manager Brian Gutekunst has been plucking players away from the United States Football League. Of the six free agent signings that the team made in July, half of them — tight end Sal Cannella, receiver Osirus Mitchell and receiver Ishmael Hyman — have come from the USFL.
On top of those three signings, the team also worked out receiver Jonathan Adams, another receiver who played in the USFL, this month.
In total, 16 NFL teams — half of the league — have signed at least one USFL player since the USFL season concluded in early July. Only five teams have signed multiple players, though, and Green Bay is the only franchise that has signed more than two players to their 90-man roster.
Could this simply be a reaction to the injuries of Christian Watson and Sammy Watkins, putting the Packers in a position where they need in-shape receivers to replace some early-camp snaps for a few weeks? Sure, but the team has also turned over every stone in seasons prior, picking up players from leagues like The Spring League, the Canadian Football League and even various arena leagues. With spring and summer leagues not going away anytime soon, as Fox and NBC have made their investments in the USFL and Disney will launch their broadcasts of the XFL 3.0 next season, it’s worth keeping in mind that the Packers have made Green Bay a welcoming home for bounce-back talent.
In total, 22 players who suited up for the USFL have signed NFL contracts this month, including former Packers outside linebacker Carlo Kemp, who spent time with the Pittsburgh Maulers before signing with the Los Angeles Chargers. Chris Odom, another former Green Bay pass-rusher, won the league’s defensive most valuable player honors and has worked out for the New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiefs and Arizona Cardinals, but has yet to sign a contract with a team.
Of those 22 players who have signed with the NFL, eight are receivers, four are cornerbacks, three are defensive linemen, three are linebackers, two are quarterbacks, one is a tight end and one is an offensive lineman. For whatever reason, there seemed to be more camp-caliber talent on the edges of the USFL field than the interior or line of scrimmage, as over half of those signed have been receivers or corners.